Runbeck Election Services, which conducts elections for several Arizona counties, has acquired controlling ownership from a business in which state House Speaker Ben Toma has a financial stake.
Early on Tuesday afternoon, Toma claimed he was not involved in the deal; yet, less than two hours later, he declared he intended to sell his stock in the Mihai Toma-run Black Mountain Investment Company.
A representative for the speaker claimed that he made the choice to steer clear of any possible or apparent conflicts of interest. Ben Toma said that he didn’t find out about the transaction until just before Lincoln Shields, a Black Mountain transaction affiliate, bought it on August 18.
Toma, a Republican from Glendale, said to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday, “I have a very, very minor portion of Black Mountain; by no means do I have authority or influence over the corporation.
According to the wide categories of value included on his state-mandated financial disclosure form, which was submitted in January, Toma held an interest in Black Mountain that was worth more than $100,000.
Toma justified the deal as being devoid of any conflicts of interest because it gives Lincoln Shields a majority stake in Runbeck Election Services. He emphasized that Runbeck collaborates with regional as opposed to national electoral officials.
Legislators in the House of Representatives have recently concentrated on Runbeck while investigating unanswered concerns about the conduct of Maricopa County election officials.
After Runbeck refused to provide papers in response to a request for public information, state representative Alexander Kolodin, a Republican from Scottsdale and co-chair of the House Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee threatened to issue a subpoena. Runbeck, a private company with offices in Phoenix, is exempt from the state’s Public Records Act.
Maricopa County is one of the jurisdictions with whom Runbeck works in conjunction. Runbeck provides services such as ballot printing, sorting, and shipping.
The relationship between Runbeck and Ben Toma, according to a representative for the company, “is purely coincidental.”
In light of this, it is said in the statement that “Runbeck wishes to invite any and all lawmakers to tour the factory so that they may inform them about their firm and take into consideration any criticisms they may have.
President and CEO of Runbeck Election Services Jeff Ellington stated that the purchase will fund the company’s service expansion and give Lincoln Shields a majority position in the business.
“Our dedicated staff will remain unchanged,” Ellington said in the statement, “and our customers and partners should know that.” The only modification is that we can now provide more.